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Julia Scheeres Education. (2011) Julia Scheeres ('A Thousand Lives The Untold Story, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown.')

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Us 7, Jim Jones 6, Fbi 6, Ryan 5, Indiana 4, Johnstown 4, Angela Davis 3, Stanley Clayton 3, Oakland 3, Indianapolis 3, Bosnia 3, Ku 2, Ect 2, California 2, U.s. 2, Tommy 2, San Fransisco 2, Gary Hart 2, Exaggerator 2, Jim 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Julia Scheeres  Education.  (2011) Julia Scheeres ('A  
   Thousand Lives The Untold Story, Deception, and Survival at...  

    November 25, 2012
    6:00 - 7:00pm EST  

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they found a way. and in this case obama did not find a way. the leader of this country is the president. and if things go well or not well, it's going to be that these things happened in the obama era, not the john boehner era. and presidents have to lead, and presidents have to learn how. and in this case we got up to the goal line. he didn't take it over the end, the finish line here. and so we live in a country -- [applause] with those, where the maximum burden is on the president. but if you, when you, if you look at the book, you will see that dealing with the republicans is not really an easy thing. and as -- [applause] i left to value office, president obama said, you know,
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if bob dole or newt gingrich had .. >> well thanks for coming out on a random wednesday night. i really appreciate it. i apologize for my voice. i have a cold that i caught from my 2-year-old, but, anyway, again, this is the book. it came out two weeks ago.
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my first book was about my relationship with my adopted black brother, david, and growing up in a rural town in indiana, and then being sent off to a reform school in the dominican republic. there were oddly parallels between the two books as far as race and kind of belonging to a society with religion and also being sent away, and i think especially when i got to the part writing about jonestown and how secluded, isolated from the world that the jones town residents were, i could really empathize with those people. oddly enough, there were punishments in jonestown similar to that in the reformed school. they had their heads shaved or on running support where they
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had to run from place to place so that was kind of interesting to see those parallels, and the book has its origin -- i was writing a novel about a charismatic preacher who takes over a small indiana town. i'm from indiana, and i thought about gym jones, another hoosier, and so i googled him and learned the fbi released all the documents found in jonestown and no one had used this to craft a book, and so what happened was for those that don't know, after the -- a congressman from california, which is south of here, decidedded to go down to johnstown to investigate claims people were held against their will, and as he was leaving, a group of people from jonestown
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decided to join him. they wanted out. jim jones knew the gig was up once people left and came back to the states, they'd talk about the conditions in jonestown. what he did was sent security guards, waiting at the jungle airstrip killing congressman ryan and members of the people that were leaving so the fbi then goes in, it's a federal investigation. congressman leo ryan is the first congressman killed in the line of dews in u.s. history. they go into johnstown after they collect the body and start collecting documents as evidence trying to see what happened. was there a conspiracy to kill the congressman? they go through, literally, picking from the mud, letters never sent home, diaries, crop reports, meeting notes. they collect 50,000 pieces of
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paper, and that would be like, i don't know, i figured it out -- 150 3 # 00-page navel. that was the material i was working with. when i worked with the heavily redacted -- couldn't read anything, and then as i was about to turn the book in, they released unredacted versions so i took another six months to read through and i could see who was doing what, who ordered cyanide and who was planning to kill everyone. that was interesting. i'm going to just read to you -- well, first, i should explain the structure of the book. 918 people died that day. my way in because everybody knows how it ends was to take
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five different people who represent different demographics that were attracted to jim jones, and so you have, for example, a middle-aged white woman, college educated, who worked, and was a progressive and wanted to do something to help the cause of minorities and african-americans and drawn to jim jones church, which at the time was seen as a progressive force movement here in san fransisco. you have her, and at the other end there's stanley clayton, an african-american young man from oakland brought up in a broken home, angry, saw everything kind of in racial terms, and for him, jim jones' message about equality and establishing a utopia with no racism or sexism or elitism, that really fell sweetly on his ears, and so he
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was drawn to jim jones' church. you had, not just black, not just whites, but it was this 70's mix of people who wanted to do something to improve social justice. another person i follow through is tommy vowing sent to jonestown as a teenager like i was sent down to my reform school as a teenager to straighten me out. he was sent to jonestown to get straightened out. he was skipping class, and, you know, stopped going to church, and so he was sent down there to, you know, isolate him from negative peers, and i really bonded with tommy, and one thing people don't realize is that a third of the people who died in the jonestown massacre were minors. you know, that's another perspective. what's it like to be in a church just because your parents are members and end up in johnstown and have, you know, no say in
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the matter? and then the -- i also profile his father so it's tommy, jim, stanley clayton, the young man from oakland. it's edith roller who worked as a secretary, and then there are these two sisters from alabama hyathinth who joins the church in indianapolis, and they joined in the 50s in indianapolis when jim jones started people's temple. he was at the cutting edge of the civil rights movement there. he was integrating his church. he was integrating lunch counters. he was going around to hospitals and integrating hospitals, but, you know, they were drawn, again, to the message of equality. they saw him on television one
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sunday. they turned on the television, saw his integrated choir and this young preacher inviting people of all colors to come to his church, and, to them, it was a revelation. they end up in jonestown so through the book, i introduce you to these different people. hopefully, you become emotionally attached to them and you understand a little bit more why it was that people ended up in jonestown. you know, i think one of the hopes i have for this book is that it changes perceptions about what happens, that the people who went -- bless you -- you know, it is so easy now for people to denounce johns victims as cultists and baby killers and even a respected historical historian called them the psychotic kool-aid drinkers of
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jones fan. well, you know, i hope this book challenges the notions and sets the record straight how trapped people were in jonestown and how isolated and how there was no way out. that's what i found in the documents. i found heart breaking letters from people wanting to go home. i had no idea it was like this. please, my children are scared. let me go home. they would not let anyone leave. the argument of the book and what├▒jr i discovered in researcs he was planning to kill his followers for years before he brought them to jonestown. he talked about loading them into busses and driving busses off the golden gate bridge. talked about loading them into an airplane and crashes it into the ocean, and, of course, the ranken file members had no idea these conversations were going
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on. it was his inner circle who tended to be the young u suppressed people who reflected his character. that is the most heart breaking thing about what happened at jonestown is that those who went down there, the poor, the inner city, the progressives, went to jonestown to think they were partaking in a great social experiment, that they were going to stay for a month. they were going to send kids off for a semester abroad and come home, and then once they got down there, jim johns took their passports, money, and said no one's going home. no one can leave. that is the most chilling thing i found in my research, and a year before the massacre, he is starting to talk to them about the fact that someday they are going to commit revolutionary suicide.
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someday they are going to die to protest capitalism. when he first brings it up, people are like wait a second, we didn't come to die, but to give our children a better life. they argued with him night after night. you know, he would hold meetings in the central pavilion of jonestowning, and they would say we want to defend our community. we want to live, and, you know, you have to read the book, but, you know, eventually, he was able to break them down by depriving them of food, sleep, by telling them they were surroundedded by mercenaries in the jungle who would attack them and torture the children, and he had, you know, conspirators, had his sons go into the jungle and shoot back at the camp to make it seem like there were people in the jungle about to attack them.
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the am of planning and the orchestration that went that final night are astounding to me, the methodical nature of his breaking down their power, the willpower, their fight, their psychological resistance to them. i'll read to you briefly about the first time he brings up the idea of revolutionary suicide. by the way, i should say, the co-founder of the black panthers wrote an autobiography called "revolutionary suicide," and what he meant by the term was the oppressed people should not be passive if they are attacked by police, but go down fighting rather than going down
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positionively, but jim jones took it to mean we're, you know, we're going to commit mass suicide to promote capitalism. he really, you know, took the words and twisted them into something all together different. this hatches december 9, 1977, a year before the actual deaths. on december 9, jim jones mother died of everyone see ma. they summoned followers to the pavilion. he described his mother's last moments as she gasped for air, tongue hanging out, so lie that down her face. they invited people to take a last look at her. he said that in death, she looked very well, very well
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indeed. she was the one person jones allowed to call his bluff and get away with it. in jonestown, when she overherd him bragging shooting a wild turkey with a pistol at 200 yards distance, she laughed and called her daughter-in-law. that man didn't shoot any turkey. anyone knows he can't shoot anything with a pistol from 200 yards. when she died, her moderating influence vanished, and another cord holding jones to reason snapped. a few weeks later in the middle of the scramble, he abruptly asked his followers, how many of you plan your deaths? there was a stunned silence. don't you ever plan your deaths, he repeated impatiently? there's a number of you that do not lift your hand and say you plan your deaths. you're going to die.
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don't you think you should plan such an important event? he called on a 75-year-old texan. sister, don't you ever plan your death? on a tape recording of the conversation, she sounds hesitant. no, she said, finally. and why don't you, dear, jones asked. i don't know, i just hadn't thought about it. don't you think it's time to think about it? it's a terrible thing to have it be an accident like i saw my mother, to be wasted and just laid in the box. it's kind of a waste, don't you think? the old woman was confused. she thought jones was taking about life insurance. [laughter] my husband quit paying it, and i didn't have no money to pay it, and i let it go, and i have not thought no more about it. i'm not talking about insurance,
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jones said. i'm talking about planning your death for the victory of the people, for socialism, for communism, for black liberation and oppressed liberation. haven't you thought about taking a bomb and running into a ku klux klan meeting drinking all the ku klux klan people. a microphone buzzed loudly angering jones. he ordered the people in the back to stop playing with the babies and pay attention. an 8-year-old biracial girl raised her hand. she, too, was confused. what does planning your death mean, she asked sweetly? on tape, her voice is shockingly innocent and clear. his response to mya, jones launchedded into a diatribe whose essence was captured in a sentence. a healthy person has to think through his death, or he may
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sell out. this was jim jones deepest fear, his followers would betray him if they left his church. he rather they die first. when somebody is ready to die at the snap of the finger, he told the followers, that's what i want to build in you, that same type of character. he began talking about various methods of dying. drowning, they say is one of the easiest ways in the world to die. it's just a numbing, kind of sleepy sensation. the crowd was solemn. their lack of enthusiasm infuriated him. you get so nervous every time i talk about death, he shouted. he stuck out his tongue pretending to gag like he saw his mother do as she died. the crowd laughed uneasily.
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an elderly woman refused to smile at the antics, and he turned on her. you're going to die someday, honey, he bellowed. you old bitch, you're going to die. this is taken from audiotape in johnstown. the fbi collected a thousand audio tapes i could use for the first time, and, you know, i can't imagine being in that crowd that night when all of the sudden this man who you respected, this preacher, this progressive, you know, figure in san fransisco politics is suddenly saying, you know, you need to plan your deaths, and bellowing at an old woman calling her a bitch. i can't imagine what that was like, sitting with your child
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and hearing this conversation. so, again, i hope that's what people take away from the book is a better understanding of what happened in jonestown and how trapped the people were. you know, he told them, another tape, you know, had some saying to people who want to leave, we're not going to pay your way home. if you want to go home, you can swim home. you know, over and over, telling them no one is going home. we're all going to be here and die together. the thing is, i've been to jonestown, i've been there in 2008, and it is so isolated, even today. in the p 70s, people had to take a two-day boat trip up the river to get there, you know, and there was no phones. there was a hand radio, but he controlled who used it.
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he senatorred all the mail going out, and that's another heart breaking thing fbi agents recovered were all the letters never given to residents saying to so and so, come home, mom is dying, and shements to see you -- she wants to see you before she goes, please. they were never given the letters. their letters, you know, to their relatives and loved ones to the family were never delivered either. i just hope, again, by reading this, people will gain a better understanding and the phrase "drying the kool-aid" is so offensive. most people have heard that phrase, but young people, especially people born after 198 # 0 -- 1980 have no idea where it comes from and originated from this horrific event in jonestown. maybe after reading the book, that phrase will not be used
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like it is now. anyway, i want to open it up for questions. i think i talked enough. yes? >> [inaudible] [applause] >> thank you. [applause] >> thirty years ago, i went to puma doing a piece for atlantic, and i'm more cynical than you are. i really feel it for the children who suffered this, but in terms of the adults, as i said, i've seen people succumb to the ideologies so harmful to people, the ideologies of religion coupled with the ideology of politics. that's, in and of themselves, they are a pretty difficult pill
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and can be quite destruct to put them together as jones did, and you have a brew that is extremely droughtive. the question i have for you, the good thing is, just leafing quickly through the book, i see a lot of people who are held, involvedded in creating an image of jones being an honorable and good and, quote, revolutionary good person, sorry, they helped him, and they deserve our scorn for that just as we -- [inaudible] gutter scum like angela davis and newton and the news department which never ceased to praise jones because they saw him as a fellow ideolog who professed what they did. the question i have for you is have you gone to the prom innocent people and asked them
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how to justify creating the myth of james jones that led so many people aproper, including people like angela davis who should hang her head in shame. >> well, they had winked a lot of people. they got, you know, the politicians quoted him, came to the temple because jones had his command, 3,000 foot soldiers willing to go out and jam the neighborhood and people demonstrations and even cross vote districts to get people elected, and i found a tape where they are basically saying, yes, you helped me get elected, and, therefore, i'm going to make you the head of the housing authority, which he did. you are right that when these allegations of physical abuse and financial misdeeds happened,
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the slate that he helped elect, you know, the district attorney, counsel member harvey, they turned a blind eye to it. you are right. of course, they were killed about ten days after the massacre happened. you had angela davis -- you know, on the outside, people's temple looked good. i talk about in the prologue, for me, growing up as i did with a black brother, looking for a place to belong, if i came to a temperature l service on a sunday morning and seen this, i would have definitely had been interested. my brother, david, and i, i would have been interested because of his message of social justice. i would have been interested because there was real love
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between temple members. i mean, having grown up in the qhurnlg, a church is -- church, a church is so much more than the leader, it's the relationship with the other people and kids becoming friends with them, and for, like, for example, a young man like stanley clayton from oakland whose mother didn't give a damn about him, stealing food to eat while his younger brother was crying with hunger, the temple offered him a place to sleep. the temple got him out of jail on early release. the temple encouraged him to get his ged. the temple ran all kinds of services, you know, drug rehab. it had child care for working moms. it had medical care for the elderly impoverished people. it looked really good from the outside. i don't think -- i think it's
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hard to blame these people. i mean, in retrospect, you know, yeah, queue can say jim jones was an eel man, but until marshall broke the story about what was happening in "new west" magazine and this all came out, you know, he really had a tight reign on communications and what was going on with the church. angela wouldn't speak to me. she's a very busy woman. yes? >> i'm wondering about -- i'm wondering about your research and how you were able to gain access to the fbi files. was that difficult? what was the process like? >> yeah, so what happened was there was a freedom of information act lawsuit that was filed by relatives of people who
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died in jonestown, and there is a professor in san diego state university who had her two sisters killed in jonestown. they were in the leadership. for her and her husband, this was kind of a personal effort, and they kept filing lawsuit after lawsuit against the fbi to get these files released. you know, the fbi finally did release the files without an index. it's, like, you know, a letter would start on, say, you know, released them on three cds, scanning all the material, so a letter started on cd 1, page 208 ended on cd 3, page 15. it was just nuts. they put all the information together, and they and myself, we are the only people that have read through the documents in their entirety, and a lot of them are just very tedious
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documentation, like, you know, purchase orders and dry stuff, but then every once in awhile you come to something like this document which is the camp doctor who was in charge of trying to figure out how to kill everyone; right? so wednesday, they went into the lab and tried to figure out, and this is just like, wow, this is stranger than fiction. tried to develop botulism and failed. he was growing cultures in baby food jars collected from the nursery, and then in this memo to jones, he writes, cyanide is one of the most rapidly acting poisens. i had some misgivings about itself educativeness, but
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further research, i gained confidence in it. i'd like to give two grams to a large pig to see how effective our batch is. okay? so in these documents, you see who is responsible. larry, who few people have heard of, you know, is talking about, you know, killing off everybody in jonestown. it's interesting. there's a probation officer here in california smuggling guns down in jones town in shipping greats. they are living in upstate new york, disappeared into the woodwork as the temple leadership did after the massacre. she's about to get a rude surprise as a local reporter is on her tail, but, you know, it was really faze enating, especially once they released the versions, you saw who was
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doing what and who was to blame for what, and so it took me a year just to piece documents together and figure out, you know, put them in chronological order, see how they structured the narrative. everybody knows how it ends, but they don't know how my people end, and hopefully my people engage you enough to want you to read through an entire book and figure out what happens to them. >> [inaudible] >> so mired in your ideology that it becomes eventually becomes evil, and i was just wondering, you know, if jim jones went through a similar psychological transition where
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he generally, you know, was outraged by what was happening, and he wanted to fix that, and then as he saw the people were charmed by him, it got to his head, power got to his head. it's so hard and fascinating to see someone, you know, who wants to do good in the world and then eventually killed all his followers, and that's still so perplexing. >> right. >> so, anyway, i was wondering what you found out or -- >> i think it's an interesting question whether jones really believed in soulful justice and equality, or if, in the 50s, when he was starting the ministry, he stumbled across this vulnerable group that wanted to hear this message, you know? and them in the 60s, african-americans who were not
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happy with the advance of the civil rights movement, and here was this preacher who wanted to further and was really out there and, you know, not militant like black panthers were, but speaking publicly about the fact that, about race and racism in america. i think that it is an interesting question. it's hard to say. he also -- his was the first family to adopt and african-american baby in indiana. he integrated his own family. he later adopted kids from korea, and so his family was a reflection of his ideology, stated ideology, and whether he really believed in social justice to that point or whether he built the church around the hope of the people, it's hard to
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tell. i do think that, you know, he looked to the preacher, the minister, the head of the church as this authority figure that he wanted to be, like the first time he went to church, and it's, like, he, coming from this loveless household wanted that type of -- and saw the preacher getting this respect and attention and affection from, you know, the congregation, and that's what he wanted for himself, and i think eventually that power and the control, you know, got the better of him, and even in indianapolis when somebody tried -- left his church, he was sending this man fevered notes saying, you know, it is god's will you stay in the church. if you leave, something bad will happen to you. there's early evidence that he had completely control his followers, and, later, that
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became for exacerbated. yes? >> a friend of a friend of mine knew jim johns back in the days, and he was somebody, you know, e no , ma'am moried of him -- enammored of him and supported him financially, but she became disillusioned with it, and my friend, you know, asked her why. her response was that she had become convinced that jones was mentally ill, and i just wondered if you had a comment, you know, on that? [inaudible] >> right. well, quite clearly, he was emotionally disturbed, if not
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mentally ill. idon't think he was diagnosed. we a psychiatrist in the crowd, maybe they can after you read the book, tell me. you know, and, again, it's -- you -- the way he controlled people, the extent to which he did it, i mean, he -- he was growing this movement purportedly where it's either you were for equality or you were against it. i mean, everything was kind of black and white with him. he -- people would turn over their real estate holdings and all of their wealth to the church and move into a temple commune, and one woman hyathinth had done that, but her sisters in the church and really believes and gets angry every
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time she tryings to talk to her, and she's given all her worldly belongings to the church. she can't -- she can't escape it. she do you want know what to do, you know, so she figures she'll try jonestown, and if she doesn't like it, she'll live with a nephew. well, she got down there, and she's told nobody's leaving. you know, it's hard to say. there was an element, especially among the leadership of people who knew jones well and knew that, for example, that he was having sexual liaisons with both men and women as a control factor. i think as he got further out, there was a satellite church in los angeles, and they would see
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him sunday and not have anything else to do with him for the next week. they decided to take a leave of absence, and they were trapped down there having no idea what his plans were. >> you mentioned the letter about mother is dying, come home, and jones opposed to anyone leaving the camp, and you also mentioned you thought a year before this happened in 78 that when his mother died in 77, he was actually seriously contemplating, you know, and you mentioned the letter about the doctor, thinking up poisens and so on so that he was already planning to kill them, but on the day it happened, a plane landed on a landing strip, representative ryan got out, ect. ect. several journalists,
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several killed, one survived, but that was in a narrative sort of a way. in other words, the day developed in its own way, sweet generous. one of a sort. he may or may not have actually had intense intentions to kill everybody. he had the poisens and pumped them with ideological motivations why they should. but on revolutionary suicide, it's not that they committed suicide, but murders. there was a truck that went to the landing strip, killed representative ryan and killed the journalist from the chronicle or examiner, i forget which it was. there was a combination of suicide and murder, and, of course, some of the people survived like larry who survived, like, for example, mark lane survived. it's a little bit more complicated, and so the question is what made that day sweet generous or what made the
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narrative unfold exactly in the way in which it did, and, of course, it seems to me, reading something about this anyway, that sly has something to do with the navy veteran whose wife was apparently going to go back to civilization with representative river, -- representative ryan, and the husband did not want her and the kids to go back so this particular episode in the day's events was completely shielded from the public for months after it happened. in other words, i read all the newspapers and the other things, and there was page after page after page of documentation that fbi gave to the newspapers to publish, all stuff on jones going back to, you know, his birth and so on and so forth, but the actual sly didn't with ryan was hidden and the speech jones made, you know, saying, well, after this thing about ryan, you know, we have to commit suicide because they'll hold this against us, wipe us
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out with military force. in other words, it was an impending invasion on the comp because sly tried to, you know, make the gesture that representative ryan's throat with a switchblade. seems there's a double-suicide plus homicide, and was that also planned, or did that just happen or where events got out of jones' control, but he had a bunch of guys that went to the airstrip, you know, and shot -- seems like it was not orchestrated, but it was somehow involved in the settlement, and it just revealed itself as the day went on, and, you know, the events kept on tugging away and going on, and what happens, i don't know. people couldn't stop it or something? i'm not sure. i never figured out myself. >> what's the question exactly? >> well, you say he wanted to kill everybody. he was intent on doing this even yearings ahead of time. >> right. >> i wonder if that might not have been true. in other words, whether the
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events of the day precipitated everything. in other words, if sly had not tried to assassinate ryan or make the gesture, perhaps jones would have continued with the sure raids for another -- charade for another decade or do you think he was convinced he'd right them out in a short space of time. his mother died a year before. >> right. well, what happened was that neil ryan left jonestown with not only the media, but also a group of defectors, okay -- >> [inaudible] >> these defectors were going to go to the states and blow the lid off jonestown. you see, it was so tightly controlled. jones had them rehearsing, and on my website, you can listen to the audio. had them rehearsing answers to reporters' questions. for example, all the residents were a gravy with sometimes some
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leafy vegetables and some leaves or something, but not enough protein, not enough sub stay nans. those who survived lost 40 pounds. it was crazy how many weight. they were very weak. he had them rehearsing in jonestown. well, what do we eat here? oh, we eat well. that's not good enough. what do we eat here? pork, chicken, steak. you know, he was rehearsing them. he wanted that -- that fantasy that jonestown was this great utopia to continue, and so when the defectors left, he knew they would come back and talk to the media and how horrible conditions were, that the preacher is now rehearsing them and suicide drills and that he's planning to kill everyone, and
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let anyone leave. he knew the gig was up, and, you know, what precipitated that? well, he was able to say, after his security guards shot upon ryan departing, you know, well, some of our people now are implicated in the crime, and it's one for all, all for one, and nowth guy in the army is going to close in, and torture us, and so it's better to take the potion and flip across to the other side. he believed in reincarnation. >> so maybe one more question. >> okay. >> did you speak to any of the department of justice or other investigators? >> i -- i spoke with an fbi agent who was on the scene of
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jonestown after the massacre. he was the lead photographer who was done there. as far as department of justice, i mean, most of the documentation, including all the internal investigation was released in these files, and that's what i worked off of. all right. >> do a signing, and all of that. >> okay. [applause] >> thank you.
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>> host: "oops" is the name of the book, the author, dr. fransic, what's it stand for? >> guest: observing our politicians stumble. i had the book idea first, and i woke up in the middle of the night needing a grabber on the title, and so, i tried all words, but it's observing our pom tigses stumble. >> host: why write a book about stumble? >> guest: i looked at campaigns, and what do we remember? we can't remembers places with candidates made a mistake. i wanted to look at the question how many mistakes were fatal, how did they overcome mistakes, what mistakes do we remember and not remember and look at the question of how that dominates campaign coverage as opposed to issues or performance of candidates and other things we think we do in a campaign. >> host: well, let's start
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with campaign cover. start with the media. mitt romney, 47%, and barack obama cling to guns. what was the media coverage like on those events? >> guest: this morning, i just ran the 47%, and i asked two questions. one is how much depth does it get? how many media outlets cover the story? what's the shelf like? last a day, a week, or a month? the guns was a relatively short, a three week kind of a life. big peak, talked about that a lot. romney at 47%, we have not seen the end of that, obviously, but it's been a month now. now, the stories drop off, but they get dragged back in either be opponents or dragged in by events. i'm sure that as we come now to the presidential debates, they say, well, i wonder if he'll respond to that and ask a question about that. of course, the issue is, in my mind, which of the gaffes are
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ones to pay attention to? do they represent a true character flaw? do they represent an incapacity to ask the way we'd like to have them act? are they just the normal things? we all make mistakes. if it happened, had them hanging out there in the public, and, now, with the internet and youtube and places like that, they not only distributed it more broadly and quickly, but there's an an archive capability and find out what barack obama said in 1998 or what mitt said in may that, by the way, there was not one bit of coverage of 47% in may. there was -- it was a public event. it was a fundraising event, but nobody told that story to the media back in may. it was not until the video popped up that it comes back into the process and, you know, late august, early september. >> host: so what mistakes have politicians made in the past that you document in "oops" that
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are fatal. >> guest: fatal, okay. well, i think, you know, let me work from the current backwards a little bit. i think, you know, when rick perry wants to be the republican nominee saying i'm cutting government in these ways, and then he can't remember which departments he's going to cover, you say he's not ready for prime time. one that's kind of affected us here back aways was elizabeth dole. she came here to speak, was not well briefed by the staff. she didn't realize it was a conference where civilian students, the whole speech aimed at mid shipmen there, but talked over the heads of those asking most of the questions from the floor, and then she just misinterpreted a question. she was asked a question -- very good, by the way, when she spoke at the republican convention. she was seen as a person who would wander around the audience, had the media in her hand, and she's a stiff kind of a speech, and she was asked a
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question about whether she would send her son to bosnia. she was going to bosnia weeks later to boost the foreign policy mission. she took it as a personal question and could see the regret that they never had a child. she said, well, we never had children. i couldn't answer. it was an abstract question. the next day, the media said she's not ready for the trail because she's not talking like a candidate, but in a personal way, and all the sudden, three weeks, her came pain folded. i think michael's problem in terms of presidential debates asked about whether what he would do whether his wife was rained, and he gave a lawyerly answer, defense of the opposition to capital punishment, and we said, you know, does the guy have a human side at all? i think it's those things we see into the capabilities, into the
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character of the individual. i think al gore was hurt over the years, not because of one event, but because of his, kind of, pointed out as a serial exaggerator. any one of those stories -- explain a way, you know, never said he invented the internet, but helped create. invent, we have him in a laboratory, on the computer, doing it. he was very important in terms of creating the arpa net that became the interpret for legislation, but he had that story and a story about he and his wife were the models for the book love story, and the author said that's not true, and so he linked all of these together and say, okay, he's a serial exaggerator, and i think that, you know, hurt him in the long run. >> host: then why did the gaffe the or mistake or a president george clinton, george w. bush, why are those not faye --
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fatal mistakes? >> guest: one is, what else is going on in the world at the time. john mccain made a comment about, you know, asked a requested about what to do in iran. send a message, a bomb, obviously, and he said bomb, bomb, bomb iran, and it was a three day wander. you know, few people remember that. a lot of coverage, but a lot of those things happened in the world at a time, and it was crowded out, and and no one carried it on. i compare that to hillary clinton's statement about being under fire in bosnia. repeated that time after time after time until the media said, well, is it true? they pulled up the pictures of her greeted in the airport by a little girl with flowers and the general on the ground said, no, there was not any fire, and then the obama people started to feed the media saying, you might want to look at her credibility on these things issue and it was so dramatic that, you know, we don't like people to lie to us, and, you know, this is about as
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close as a presidential can bat obama looking at fellow democrats saying she lied to us. that underminded what was going on. who else is pushing us is important, and i think it's explainable. to have a candidate who is in sioux falls, south dakota, on the campaign trail all day, exhausted, made 12 stops, and they say it's nice to be here in oklahoma city, you know, well, we pass that off and say, well, doesn't make a different, you know, where they, where they are or think they are at that point in time. >> host: gary hart. >> guest: okay. gary hart created the original sin of challenging the people in the media. you know, there were all the stories. most people in media knew he ran around a bit, but rather than just letting it go at that and you have to remember we're in a time where we didn't -- the media didn't look into that carefully. there was a backstage area. one of the problems i think we have today is politicians have
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no backstage area. whatever they do, wherever is realistic. the ballot to be covered, but that was not the case at the time. he challenged the media saying prove this stuff so a reporter from florida newspaper hid out in the bushes in southwest washington and saw his girlfriend come in late at night and leave early the next morning. it was not hard for him to guess that she was not probably cleaning the floors or cooking an all-night dinner, and so, you know, you don't challenge the media. you don't pretend to be something you aren't. >> host: political science professor stephen frantzich, recent book "oops: observing our politicians stumble," dr. frantzich, how many books have you written, and what are the topics? >> guest: 17 original books, second editions then it's 27,
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but you can lie with statistics. all academics do their time in the trenches of doing academic books. i've done textbooks. last five or six books have been more fun kinds of books. one prior to this it was "honored guest" profiling the people presidents mentioned in state of the union message. today, we're used to a president using someone as an example. that was not done until ronald reagan did it for the first, you know, first time, and ever president since that used people as an example of their political goals own their philosophies. i found that one close to home. i did a biography with ryan lamb, and they said what is the real brian like? he did not want a biography done, and i pumped him and pumped him, and i got a contract to do one. i came in, and said, well, what do you think?
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he said, well, i guess i'd let you do. i can't say no. i start this occupation that is committed to open access to information. how can it close things down? he was a wonderful source. he didn't interfere. opened doors for me, gave me a list of the high school friends and buddies, scene so that was kind of fun to do. prior to that, i did a book that looked at individuals who changed national policy. it's called "citizen democracy," a bunch of profiles of individuals, unelected, unappointed individuals who went out and created things like major legislation because of their actions. >> host: what do you teach at the nature academy? >> guest: political science. our department's proud of the fact that for the last 30 years, we've almost all been the number one people. people don't assume that in a technical school, but value added because they have social sciences, teach media and
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politics, and campaign election, and i keep my finger in the american government course, and we have a required american government course. the congress in its wisdom said, you know, what's going on at the naval academy when they don't understand civilian control of the military? in the budget hearings, they required us to create a required government course. we taught 75% of the students that anyway, but now it's 1 # 00%. i like teaching about it. it's a traditional course and ethics of the course. when you're in the military, there's extra responsibilities on you that normal individuals do not have. i teach american government, the good stuff. >> host: one more project you're involved in, in a book give away. what's the project? >> guest: it was a one-time, one-shot activity in the rotary
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group i'm in. send books to students in africa. collect the books. our county paid $93 a truckload to dump them in the landfill. too many for one shipment so let's do another and another and another, and took on a life of its own. we just passed our 5.6 million book, and people want to kind of grass m that. i say, okay, look at a football field, full of trailers, side to side, end zones, that's 300 tractor trailers, and we ship out 15 of the tractor trailers a year, and then basic library in a box, 25,000 books at a time. send some to troops in iraq and afghanistan, peace corp. volunteers, an arrangement with c-span, the review books you have, we get, we get books from schools, library, and we believe, no one challenged us, but we had the largest volunteer based book description project in the world meaning we ship inexpensively.
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we ship for $4,000 for a container. some of the other groups -- wonderful other organizations doing this stuff. they walk in the door, and they start at $16,000 because they use paid individuals so we're a bulk shipper. we, you know, bring them in, sort them out, put them in a container, and send them off. >> host: to american troops and americans abroad, but to other countries too; right? to start libraries? >> guest: forty countries, african countries, english speaking, a lot of the stanes, and kazakhstan and those, south american countries, of course, the philippines, places like that, british-american colonies, and then to a lot of peace corp.. everybody wants to learn english, and so we send a lot of stuff for basic english. we just sent a bunch of basic kid reading books to cambodia because the u.s. military is teaching cam bodians how to